Blockchain technology continues to offer promising prospects to many industries that could see the way they operate change radically. The most prominent example of this has been in cryptocurrencies, which became immensely popular in 2017.
The most popular token of all, Bitcoin, reached a peak value of just under $20,000 shortly before Christmas of the same year.
With the rapid adoption of smartphones from 2007 and into the early 2010s, many in the iGaming industry saw an opportunity to make their games more accessible and convenient. This resulted in most brands launching mobile apps to allow players to enjoy their favourite games on the go. It then crashed to just above $6,000 in early 2018.
Major players in the finance industry took note of the possibilities of its possibilities, with companies like Santander and Deutsche Bank coming together to create we.trade, a business that uses blockchain technology to conduct KYC checks on international transactions.
Rise of Dapps
The designers of Etherum and some other blockchain systems have been developing decentralised apps (dapps) as a way to create an ecosystem that is free from censorship and central control.
They typically run on top of blockchain systems like Bitcoin and Ethereum, using the blockchain to process transactions and communications.
Some dapps that can be used today include MonitorChain, a dapp that monitors Ethereum transactions for fraud and Crypto Speech which is a messaging dapp.
Gaming Driving Dapp Development
Some of the most popular dapps available to download today are games. The biggest of these is CryptoKitties which was launched in 2017 and runs on Ethereum. It is a virtual pet game that lets users collect and breed virtual cats that can be traded with other players.
The game was so popular when it launched in December 2017 it actually caused a network-wide slowdown of Ethereum as transactions spiked to an all-time high. It uses smart contracts as the facilitator for these transactions, with more than 3.2 million trades and over 1 million cats being bred by October 2018.
Other popular games include EOS Dynasty, Prospectors, Fair City, Brave Frontier Heroes and MyCryptoHeroes, although none come close to the popularity of CryptoKitties.
iGaming on Dapps
Some of the other popular dapps are online casino services that offer games similar to those available from traditional online casino brands. So far they are mostly operated by small developers although some are larger operations.
The iGaming industry as a whole has usually been quick to adopt new technologies, with mobile apps being the biggest growth area for the industry in recent years.
These apps have evolved over time, bringing them closer to the desktop experience. With most leading iGaming brands like PokerStars offering classic on-the-go card games with the same features on mobile devices as you’d expect on a computer or Ubisoft giving access to mobile games for any mood.
However, they continue to remain centralised services operating on the same model that they have since the first online casinos opened in 1995.
Things Unlikely to Change
There seems to be little interest among the major players in the iGaming industry to adopt blockchain technologies or to offer dapps. The vast majority of online casinos still don’t even accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin as payment and the ones that do tend to use services that convert the tokens into fiat currency.
It’s likely that this will remain the case for the foreseeable future. Ultimately, many online casinos are operated by large, publicly traded companies that are accountable to shareholders.
To many, investment in blockchain technologies is a risk that they’re not yet willing to take. It may be because the strict regulatory requirements placed on them would make it difficult, it may be because they’re not convinced of the benefits.
Regardless, it seems the enthusiasts of blockchain technology will need to demonstrate the technology’s value first. This may not be a bad thing though, as they’ll have a head start of several years providing a competitive advantage.